Review of Che Guevara's "Guerrilla Warfare"
I just finished reading my copy of Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare — purchased by a fast talkin' hustler on the streets of Havana.
It's a good book. He writes concisely about the situation. It's weirdly practical in that you can apply many lessons today without being in a pseudo-military, and also gets you thinking what's at stake when society breaks out into revolution. It's a dirty business.
Mr. Guevara describes the conditions for men in a guerrilla army. It sounds intense. The amount of discipline required is enviable — one which I daydream I'm capable of, but can hardly manage in real life once I close the book and start my day...
Mr. Guevara also talks about the role of women in an armed revolution in modern terms. He acknowledges there are different qualities women possess which would benefit a budding revolution in unique ways, but he states women absolutely can fight alongside men.
As a filmmaker, it's easy to abstract these principles of guerrilla warfare for the craft — especially if you're beginning from zero: no connections, no equipment, no resources.
Thinking strategically along the lines of a guerrilla war, you can begin to imagine: Where are the things I need? Where are the people? Where's the gear?
At which point you can wage a "psychological / propaganda" war on the vicinity of your objective until you begin winning the hearts & minds of the people.
Once you're on the inside, you can leverage one gain after the other until the next thing you know you're storming the palace (metaphorically, of course).
This is just one possible abstraction of Che's principles into the art world.
The truth is: Independent artists in America are a lot like guerrilla commanders.
Independent artists face tremendous obstacles & powerful interests from the beginning.
In order to break through the barrier of attention, one must "attack" the cultural landscape with a powerful pin-point accuracy.
And that doesn't mean taking a shot anywhere: You've got to hit culture so it feels it.
Culture needs to drop everything & take notice.
Culture needs to realize there's a mystical force hiding in the mountains offering new freedom & meaning for all who join. Many will hate you & call you dirty rebel scum.
It's cool. It's not their revolution anyway. It's ours.
That sort of thing. See what I mean? Did you feel that? 😉
Having a mental framework of a guerrilla commander instead of a lowly beginning artist puts you at a significant advantage. You now have a shot at succeeding without having to rely on luck.
Plus, a film set is organized a lot like a guerrilla unit. It functions on similar grounds. You have a leader banding a group predominantly on emotions, working quickly & efficiently to achieve an absurd goal — against all the odds.
Mr. Guevara talks about a lot of other details in the book, which could in this way:
For example, he clearly makes the case that success is not just about the what & where of attacking, but about having a back-up plan, defensive tactics, escape routes, supply chains, morale, recruitment, organization, etc.
It's a small book with big ideas.
I know Che Guevara is a controversial figure, especially in Miami... But despite Che's infamy, the notion of an insurgency / irregular warfare / guerrilla warfare is extremely important in the 21st Century. America has engaged with guerrilla outfits for many decades and this doesn't appear to be slowing down.
Military historian Max Boot actually made the comparison of America to Ancient Rome, in that during the height of Ancient Rome's supremacy the empire was constantly on-guard / fighting against barbarian insurgents / irregular armies — much like America today. Because of the nature of both nations, they face similar enemies. The barbarians eventually toppled the Romans, little by little. It doesn't have to be so with America: That's why we study Che.